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My Life with Love Languages: a Meditation on “I Didn’t Love My Wife When We Got Married.”

I Love You smallHere I go again, sticking my big nose into someone else’s blog post. I feel a little like a techno-savvy Gladys Kravitz. (For any Millennials who  might be reading this, she was the nosy neighbor from Bewitched… the TV show from the 60s… not the recent movie. Explaining jokes ruins them, but I wouldn’t want the youngsters to miss how truly witty I am.)

I came across a viral post, “I Didn’t Love My Wife When We Got Married,” and, for the sake of the readers of that post, and not merely for the joy of looking out my digital windows screaming, “Abner! Abner! Come take a look, Abner!” I would like to reflect on what this author has to say in light of my own 25 year marriage. You can read his article for yourself at http://popchassid.com/didnt-love-wife/.

The author describes his journey from being “a sentimental sap” to developing a more mature attitude about love that could survive the lows of practical living and the ups and downs of passion’s fervor. He discovers that “love is a verb” and not an emotion.

I won’t take too much issue with what the author says here, as he describes his emotional “lovey dovey” pursuits of his wife, but I would like to, perhaps, cast some of his descriptions in another light. The light of my own discovery of what others have called love languages… or love currency.

My wife and I were married 9 years when growing frustrations over our inability to connect on certain levels reached a boiling point and we accidentally discovered love languages for the first time.

I consider myself the laziest workaholic you will ever meet, and we were, at the time, in the middle of my first Master’s degree. For five years, I worked upwards of 100 hours a week between school and job, while she stayed home, raising our young children, keeping an immaculate house, and preparing regular meals on a shoe string budget. We mostly fed ourselves out of a local food pantry. While I was exhausted beyond human reason, I was expanding my horizons, and my wife, who has a genius I.Q., spent her days talking with children… one of whose ambitions for world domination was already in full bloom.

The typical flack that led to the grand confrontation of our mutual frustrations is unimportant, but we eventually sat in the living room to have it out in a calmer more fruitful discussion. What was my problem with her? What was her problem with me?

The answer was identical. “You don’t love me.”

We each answered the accusation with shocked indignation. “How could you say such a thing? Don’t I (fill in the blank)? Doesn’t that show you that I love you?”

So, she loved me, she said, and I loved her, I said, but that “fill in the blank” stuff was quite a revelation. Our entire relationship seemed to be dying between the differences.

Her love for me: She takes care of my children, keeps a clean house, prepares meals (though she hates to cook), does the laundry, does the books, proof reads my university papers, etc, etc, etc. I, however, wasn’t getting from her what I most desperately needed and, after 9 years, a kind of desperate panic was setting in.

My love for her: I touch her constantly (not in some kind of animal maul, but tender contact), I complement her, flirt with her, woo her. I drain myself to spend time with her when time is the last thing I have. She, however, wasn’t getting from me what she most desperately needed and, after 9 years, a kind of sullen resentment was setting in.

We came to a long moment of silence staring at each other with puzzled expressions on our faces.

We had, in turn, each described what love looked like to us in action. We described how we showed love, described how we received love, and we discovered why, though both claimed vehement love, we both felt utterly unloved.

We vowed to change. We each vowed to make a concentrated effort to express ourselves in actions that the other cared the most about.

In The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, Gary D Chapman details… you guessed it… 5  love languages.

  1. Words of Affirmation

  2. Quality time

  3. Gifts

  4. Acts of service

  5. Touch

While most people have some level of awareness of each of these, there seems to be one or two for any given person (Save, perhaps, sociopaths) that matters far above the others. These are keys to loving in a “currency” that the other can exchange.

So, while I agree with the author of our article “I Didn’t Love My Wife When We Got Married,” that love is a verb not an emotion, I wouldn’t give up on the worth of that affectionate pining just yet. You, like I, may just have discovered through the conflict both your wife’s and your primary love languages… and that is valuable information for marital joy.

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